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The Bhima Syndrome: A Lesson For Leadership

In one of my earlier blog, I wrote about how Angad effectively showed his brilliant thinking and won the mental game over the all powerful Ravana. I called it Angad effect. Now I will speak more about an incident in Mahabharata where Bhima nearly killed himself and the entire Pandava army.

It was 5th, 6th or whatever the day of Kurukshetra war between Pandavas & the Kauravas. Drona has just been killed by Arjuna in a somewhat unethical fight. Drona was misled by Yudhisthira that his son ‘Aswathama’ has been killed. Instead the Pandavas had only killed an elephant by that name and had Yudhisthira pronounce to Drona ‘Aswathama dead, alias elephant’ but the 2nd part (alias elephant) was spoken too softly for Drona to hear. Drona was so much shocked by his son’s death that he gave up arms and Arjuna did not hesitate to kill his guru instantly.

When Aswathama came to know of his father’s death and the manner in which he was misled to death, his angers knew no bound. Courtesy Drona, he had also mastered the art of archery and was bestowed with lot of powerful astras/ weapons. One of the most lethal weapon he had was ‘Vaishnavastra’ (perhaps second only to Brahmaseer Astra, which he would later use after the Kuruskhetra war on Pandavas). This particular weapon was all powerful, capable of decimating the Pandava army and Pandava’s had no antidote for the same. The fierce Astra was in the shape of a burning chakra (rotating wheel, the key weapon of Sri Vishnu) and it started wrecking havoc on the army of Pandavas. As the brave warriors kept looking helplessly, Yudhisthira rushed to Sri Krishna for help. Krishna being the avatar (form) of Sri Vishnu could have arrested the weapon but he won’t participate actively in the war. Hence he suggested an antidote for the same, which he only knew. Krishna advised Yudhisthira to ask all his warriors and army personnel to bow in reverence to the weapon and by doing this the weapon will lose its power.

Yudhisthira immediately asked all his warriors and army to drop their weapons and bow to the weapon in true devotion. Everyone did except Bhima. Bhima, one of the Pandava brother and only junior to Yudhisthira, could not accept the fact that the weapon could not be defeated. He was so much blinded by his own sense of power that he started to hurl different powerful weapons towards Vaishnavastra. But alas, none were successful. The other key feature of this particular all powerful weapon, is that its energy and destruction capability increased in direct proportion to the other weapons which are hurled towards it. By the time, Bhima has thrown a couple; the Vaishnavastra has grown into a massive destructor, raging in fire. Yudhisthira and even Sri Krishna, were so much scared by this brazen foolishness that they also started to plead to Bhima to obey Yudhisthiras advice and drop his weapon and bow. But ego of Bhima was too strong; he was not ready to accept defeat despite it being a common sense that this is a battle, only to lose. Another couple of weapons gone to wind, the Vaishnavastra changed it course and started to come menacingly towards Bhima and killing Pandava army in thousands on the way.

The sight of the massive weapon coming on to him scared Bhima! With not much time left, he hurriedly drops his weapon and bows to Vaishnavastra. But his mind was still clouded by ego and hence mentally his reverence to the weapon was missing. The weapon continued its trajectory towards Bhima. Sri Krishan again reminded Bhima to bow with complete subjection & reverence to avoid imminent fatality. This opened up Bhima’s eyes and he bowed in absolute subjugation & reverence. The weapon slowly lost its rage and vanished to the utter enjoyment & relief for the Pandavas.

This is such a wonderful lesson for all who gets temporarily blinded by power & ego that they forget to acknowledge larger powers close by and ends up losing the corporate/ personal battle. All it requires is not always brazen use of power, but a more intelligent use of power and perseverence to win. Winning actually requires a lot more humility than actual brazen power.

Hopefully you have liked this story. My next on the lighter reading, is another very exciting story from one of our great epics.

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